The International Steam Pages

Steam Locomotives in Bosnia

Keith Chester has been back to Bosnia (April 1998), his original report from March 14th/15th 1997 and his update based on a visit from May 8th to 10th 1997 are still here.

The situation in Bosnia-Hercegovina (April 1998) is little changed from Spring 1997; if anything, as industrial activity picks up in the country, then there is slightly more steam working than last year. But this may change soon. Apparently accords were signed in February to re-establish rail links between the various parts of the country. At Zenica, we were told that the line north from Maglaj to Doboj and that from Tuzla to Doboj would be re-opened in May or June. If (and it's a big one) this happens, then (ex DB) diesels are likely to appear in the Tuzla area and eliminate much of the steam. The management at Tuzla Mines is quite keen to get rid of steam - for the usual reasons- lack of spare parts and ageing boilers.

April 8th 1998

Zeljezara Zenica: This steel works still uses steam for shunting; in fact it never stopped. Production is much reduced at about 10% of the prewar levels. The following class 62 were noted: 62-381 (working); 62-322, 62-382-3 (serviceable); 62-314/6, 62-361, 62-371-4, 62-380 & 62-521 (stored/dumped) and 62-362 plinthed near main entrance to works. 62-366 from Kakanj mine was here for a major overhaul. Skoda 0-6-0T no. 19-13 was formerly at Zenica and is said to have been scrapped there. All previous reports that it may be at Vares can thus be ignored. Zenica Mine : 62-348 seen shunting; one other 62 (62-350??) is reported as being repaired here.

Kakanj Mine: Continues to use class 62.

Breza Mine: Re-opened in December 1997 and uses 62-672 (in poor condition); 62-363 is dumped inside the shed

April 9/10th 1998

Tuzla area. All the mines in the Tuzla region, including Banovici and Durdevik, now come under the aegis of Tuzla Mines; HQ is in Tuzla. The central depot is at Bukinje from where locos (classes 33 & 62) are sent out to mines at Dubrave, Mramor and Sikulje (wrongly called Dobrinje and Lukavac respectively in previous reports). There are also class 33 hauled trip workings from Bukinje mine to the power station at Tuzla.

Locomotives for Banovici and Durdevik (the latter not working in early April 1998) are provided by Banovici. At Banovici, Skoda 0-6-0T no. 19-12 has been completely overhauled and is back at work. On the narrow gauge, line working was in the hands of 740-108, with 83-159 and 720-001 on shunting duties.

Lukavac Soda Factory was not visited but is reported as being operational as of 1 April 1998. If so, then its class 62 should be quite active as the works require a lot of coal. 62-644, seen dumped at this location in March 1997, is now at Banovici for a major overhaul (nearly completed).

Keith Chester reports on a visit made on March 14 & 15.1997

Steam continues to survive here essentially due to the fact that the small network of lines around Tuzla are isolated from any other rail connection; it is also very difficult to bring rolling stock in by road because of road tunnels over the mountain passes; 3 small ex Slovenian diesels were transferred to Tuzla by road a while back, but the cab roofs had to be cut off and welded back on to do so. The railway line to Brcko and Vinkovci is being worked on and may be in service by June; if so, this would almost certainly mean the end of steam at Tuzla. Steam operations are mostly at a number of lignite mines around Tuzla, known collectively as Kreka Mines. These supply coal for the large power station at Tuzla.

Bukinje Mine: This is just outside Tuzla and is the site of the central depot and repair works for steam operations. A class 33 takes a train of coal to the nearby power station at any time between 8am and 1pm. We did however see one return working from the power station at approx. 7.30am, so there may be other (regular?) workings.

Locos here: 33-216 (working); 33-064 & 33-248 (cold but serviceable); 33-501/4/5 (dumped). A 62 was seen inside the repair shops and 33-236 was reportedly being repaired inside, but as we visited on a Saturday and the guy with the key wasn't around we couldn't get in to see.

Lukavac: There are 3 locations with steam in this small town NW of Tuzla.

Lukavac Soda Factory. Hasn't worked since 1992, but factory is currently being reactivated. 62-638 in steam for shunting; 62-644 OOU in poor condition; clearly had been used as a stationary boiler.

62-638 shunting

"Boris Kidric" Coking Plant; also hasn't worked since 1992. 2 1952 built Energie 0-8-0Ts OOU.

Lukavac mine. 33-503 for shunting and trip workings (one per day, approx. mid morning?) to ZBH station approx. 1km away. (Not very exciting!)

Banovici: This is by far the best location.

There is a large coal mine opposite the ZBH station shunted by 62-125. OOU but looking serviceable were: 62-111, 62-677 & 0-8-0T no. 144R 03 (1954 Fives Lille). A 760mm gauge line runs to the mine on a ledge above the sg operation. This connects with a coal mine 5.7km away. Line operations are behind an ex JZ 740 class diesel. At the time of our visit both the lower sidings and the mine at the upper end were being shunted by steam; previous visitors have found steam only at the lower end. Working were 25-30, a CKD 0-6-0T, and 0-8-2 no. 83-159.This must be the sensation of the year - a classic JZ ng loco in steam and working! How long though? A good time to visit is between 2 & 3pm when the shift changes. The loco from the upper mine returns to the lower end for servicing and to change crews. The main workshop & depot for the locos is at 3.7km in the town of Banovici (which is quite a distance from the station of the same name). Seen in the yard here were 83-158, 180/1; CKD 25-26/29/33. Again visited on a Saturday and no man with a key, but one more CKD 0-6-0T is believed to be here. According to the crews at Bukinje, the mines at Dobrinje and Dubrave are shunted by a 62; we did not visit to check this out.

62-125 working in Banovici station

144R03 waiting for some repairs in Banovici station

Skoda class 25s


There was very little fighting around Tuzla and the town has recovered well. Superficially the standard of living is higher than in, say, Romania. Hotels & good restaurants no problem. Plenty of taxis and buses for getting around; hire car reportedly available at Hotel Tuzla. But it is all rather expensive. We travelled to Tuzla by the 2 times weekly Vienna-Tuzla coach service (500ATS return). Permits are not essential, but it is (usually) necessary to secure permission from the director of the site being visited - hence a weekday visit is recommended, though all the above mentioned operations seem to be 7 days a week.

This is the report from May 1997

1) The mines around Tuzla using steam locos (and there are quite a few which don’t) come under the aegis of two organisations:

a) Tuzla Mines (formerly Kreka Mines) - Bukinje; Dubrave, Dobrjne & Lukavac.

b) Banovici Mines - Banovici & Durdevik.

It is evident that there is considerable movement of locos between the mines within each organisation.

2) The coal industry in Bosnia lost most of its previous markets (local industry & in Croatia, Serbia etc) and merely supplies local power stations, ie it is working way below capacity (Dubrave used to produce 2m tonnes pa, now 400,000t). With the warmer weather demand for electricity is lower & thus the demand for coal is lower & thus activity at the mines is much less than in March; noticeably fewer trains running & nothing on Saturday. A summer visit is therefore not recommended.......

3) But, what is the future? Tuzla Mines has already agreements for new diesels; when they arrive these will certainly put an end to the 33s, possibly also the 62s. Everything depends on the restoration of the railway link to Vinkovci, which runs through Serbian controlled Brcko. The line itself should be physically restored by June/July 1997; it is however far from certain that it will be for political reasons. Nothing will happen to the steam at Tuzla till this line opens. According to the chief engineer at Banovici 760mm steam there is expected to last for another 4 or 5 years - I’m sceptical it’ll last that long (they only need perhaps one more diesel and to learn how to operate in a rather more rational way).

Observations May 8-10 1997:

Resod Guming factory (near Kreka station) : ng 0-6-0T 25-28 (minus wheels) OOU as stationary boiler.

Bukinje : no trains working as there was no dynamite for the mine; working expected to resume on 12.5. Locos present : 33-064, 216, 501, 503-5; 62-368, 62-637.

Dobrjne : also not working due to no dynamite; not visited but 62-376 reported here.

Lukavac : not visited but 33-236 reported here.

Dubrave : 62-123 shunting

Banovici (1435mm) : 62-111 shunting; 62-677 & 144R-03 OOU and 0-6-0T 19-12 (Skoda 1912/1948) was under repair; this loco was reported in LOKREPORT as working at Durdevik in March.

Banovici (760mm) : basically no change since March 1997 with 83-159 & 25-30 both in steam (but doing bugger all). At works were 25-31 under repair and 25-26, 29 & 33; 83-158, 180, 181 in various conditions. The chief engineer expressed an interest in selling these locos, if a buyer can be found.

"Preserved" in terrible condition at the old station in Banovici (near present bus station) are 83-157 and 0-8-0T 55-99 (type 490).

Kakanj Mine : This is about 50km north of Sarajevo on the road to Zenica. The mine is about 3km SW of the station. At present a loco is steamed Mo-Fri. We visited on a Saturday and found 62-015 (cold but had worked the previous day); 62-020 (OOU) & 62-366 (repair).

A class 62 was seen dumped(?) at Ilijas iron(?) works; what appeared to be locos (reportedly 2 x 62 and a Skoda 0-6-0T type 19) were just about visible behind the very dirty windows of two sheds at the iron works at Vares.

Probably a good number of 62s survive elsewhere if you know where to look for them.

The chief engineer at Bukinje has discovered the joys of capitalism and seems to intend charging for future visits. For a price (he didn’t say what, but he claimed people were paying DM300 a day in Germany for Plandampf, [do they? I’ve never done one] so he’s aware of prices), he will arrange private accommodation & visits to the four mines of the Tuzla organisation. If interested, contact by phone:

Mustafa Saracevic 075/230-087 (office) 075/213-604 (private).

Rob Dickinson